“Help! I need Somebody!” Yeah, easy for you to say, The Beatles. Not as easy for most of us.
I am pretty good at asking for help when it’s really just advice, but I find it much harder to ask someone to actually do things for me. Things that require them to leave their homes, and spend time or money or other resources. You know, things that might require effort.
I was self-employed for a big chunk of my early adult life. One result was that I was in a unique position to offer assistance to my friends during business hours. I could pick them up from the airport at 11:00 am, or get their kids from school at 2:30. I was called upon to wait for the cable guy and to help drop off cars at the repair shop. And I loved it! I have always loved helping people out, sometimes to the detriment of my own business, or family, or sanity.
But the asking muscle was one I really had to develop, and have had to continually exercise. I never want to feel that I’m imposing on someone’s time or good nature. I sometimes feel unworthy of those things. I even feel embarrassed at my inability to DO IT ALL, BY MYSELF, ALL THE TIME.
As with so many things, necessity was the mother of growth.
When my kids were around 7 and 10, my job shifted and I found myself working every Saturday. As a single parent, this proved pretty challenging. As the first weekend approached, I started to panic a little. Urgh, I was going to have to ask for help. And fairly substantial help, at that - would you please take care of my two kids, starting at 8 am on your very precious Saturday? Oh, and they each have a soccer game. In the rain. (Fortunately the soccer season does not last all year.)
But I didn’t have much of a choice, so I sucked it up and asked, and the response I got was exactly what you might expect: a resounding yes! From the family with three small boys: our kids are happier and easier to handle when your girls are here! From my childless sister: I had the best conversation with Maddie’s mom at the soccer field! From my boss: the girls are welcome to come to work with you! Everyone helped, and I was reminded of something I kind of already knew; people like to help. It makes them feel good to be asked.
So, what does this have to do with you? I’m reminding you that it might be time to ask for some help. I’m asking you to think about how you feel when someone asks you for help, and not just the ride-to-the-airport kind of assistance. I’m talking about when you’re asked to describe your career trajectory to a young woman trying to find her way, when a friend asks you to accompany her to a scary appointment, when someone asks you to use your talent or connections or brute strength to help them with a difficult task. It feels good, doesn’t it? It’s validating. It’s a reminder that you have special skills and superpowers.
So let’s remember that asking for help isn’t bothering people; it’s recognizing their inner expert. And then let’s remember that you are likely doing the work of five in your day to day life, and asking for assistance isn’t an admission of failure. It’s embracing the realization that other people are good at things we haven’t gotten around to conquering yet.
My business is based on people getting to a point at which they are willing to ask for help. Sometimes they feel embarrassed about having to ask. Sometimes they feel ashamed of letting someone see how “bad” their homes look. But what it says to me is that they’ve realized that none of us can DO IT ALL, BY OURSELVES, ALL THE TIME.
If you need help decluttering and organizing your house, call me. And if you need help doing your taxes, or repainting your living room, or getting back in shape or whatever, then find someone who can help and ASK. Because we are all in this together.